Change of country, same career!
James and Sue Ickringill had long had their own agency in UK, so it seemed logical to transfer those skills when they moved to France.
You were estate agents in the UK; tell us a bit about that. J - Since qualifying in 1981 I’ve always been involved with the sale of property and chattels. We had our own practice located in a World Heritage Site. This involved the marketing and sale of many listed buildings which was both interesting and challenging. S - I was drawn into our practice when the children were little, working at the office originally until we stepped into the 20th century and became computerised! Then I worked from home a lot too.
When did you move to France, and why? S - We moved in July 2006 for a better ‘family orientated’ way of life, which we eventually achieved when James moved over here permanently – he commuted for five years!
How was your property hunting experience? S – Disheartening; no agent would show us any of the properties we’d prearranged to see!
What did you buy? J - We fell in love with a logis requiring work (hence the commuting) in the countryside close to the Charente/dordogne border.
Describe your new life S - Hectic, but rewarding. We finally found ‘us’; we got off the UK treadmill and all the financial ties, stopped competing and started to please ourselves! J - No pressure to keep up with the Joneses. We’re much busier than expected on both work and social fronts. Discussion with friends over dinner about strimmers, chainsaws and lawn mowers would be unthinkable in the UK!
Did you always plan to work in France? S - Yes, though nothing specifically in mind, just doing less than we used to do in the UK. The plan was always to have a slower pace of life, but as it turns out, it’s not in our makeup! And then you became estate agents… again S - Having had 30 years of it in the UK, James had sworn off agency work, until he got fed up rebuilding walls in the garden. It’s what he knows and loves. We worked together in the UK, so why not here too?
What are the main differences between the job you do now and the one you did in the UK? S - There’s much more emotional investment. You become much closer to the buyer by nature of the French buying culture. J - The job in France entails greater interaction with the buyer and sale process from initial enquiry to the date of completion and in many cases well beyond.
What advice would you give to the next generation of property hunters? S - Be honest. You can strike up a much better relationship with an agent, inevitably leading to a smoother ride. J - Hook up with an agent you can trust. This will save considerable time and frustration.
Is France your ‘forever home’? S - Absolutely! We’re lucky that our children have settled here so well. We’re now the proud grandparents of a six-month-old girl! There’s no way I’m going anywhere anytime soon!